AWI Welcomes Shark Protection Law in Guam

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Washington, D.C. -- The Animal Welfare Institute congratulates Governor Eddie Baza Calvo of Guam for signing Bill 44-31 into law, prohibiting any person from possessing, selling or distributing shark fins in the territory.

"We are thrilled that Guam has taken this crucial action to protect sharks" said Cathy Liss, AWI president. "Governor Calvo and the bill’s champions are to be applauded," she added. AWI had submitted testimony in support of the bill in January.

Over 73 million sharks die every year to meet the demand for shark fin soup - an Asian delicacy - a level of slaughter that is severely depleting shark numbers. Sharks mature late and have few young, making them especially vulnerable to overfishing.

As apex predators, sharks are an integral part of the marine ecosystem, and their absence reverberates throughout the system - even posing a threat to other commercial fisheries. Shark finning is not only unsustainable, it is also wasteful and shockingly cruel. Fins are sliced off, often while the shark is still conscious, and the body is thrown back into the water to die a horrible death from drowning or predation.

Guam’s bill was championed by Senate Vice Speaker Benjamin J. F. Cruz, Senate Majority Leader Rory J. Respicio, and Senate Speaker Judith T. Won Pat. The new law is similar to shark protection measures taken by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the State of Hawai’i, and follows passage of the federal Shark Conservation Act, signed by President Obama in January. The Shark Conservation Act requires sharks caught in U.S. waters to be landed with their fins attached and prohibits the transfer of shark fins at sea. The Guam law, along with those of Hawai’i and the Northern Marianas, go further by banning the possession, sale and distribution of fins altogether.

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Media Contact:
Susan Millward, AWI, (202) 446-2123